Race Weekend Central

IndyCar Preview: The 99th Indianapolis 500

The 99th Indianapolis 500

For everything that the Verizon IndyCar Series has been through over the years, it’s crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500, still stands tall as the most prestigious and well-known auto-racing event in the world.  This Sunday, for the 99th time, the Indianapolis 500 will be contested in front of a crowd estimated to be 250,000-plus strong. It is a race that needs no introduction. As we all say, “it’s Indy.”

What’s News

  • It’s been a whirlwind of a month of May, and easily the most storyline-filled in recent memory. Safety issues have run rampant, as the untested oval aero kits have proved to be problematic. A rash of violent wrecks, some due to the aero kits, others due to unrelated problems, marred the practices leading up to Sunday’s race. James Hinchcliffe suffered an especially violent wreck this past Monday, and suffered injuries that nearly claimed him of his life. As such, there is a great deal of trepidation heading into Sunday as followers of the sport hope that disaster does not strike once more.
  • In lighter news, Scott Dixon claimed the pole for Sunday’s race with a blazing lap of 226.760 mph. He and his Ganassi teammates showed the most speed of any team across the board throughout the month, and all are expected to be major contenders for the win on Sunday.
  • Preliminary plans for next year’s Indianapolis 500, which will be the 100th running of the event, were unveiled on Thursday. Mark Miles and other high-ranking IndyCar officials indicated that they intend to make the 100th running “the biggest motorsports event ever.”  The theme for the event will be “Fast Forward.” Old legends of the race will be honored while new traditions for the race will be ushered in. More details are expected for the event in the coming months.

The Track

Perhaps the most famous track in auto racing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 and staged its first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Since then, the track has accrued more history and tradition than any other circuit in the world. At 2.5 miles, it is tied as the longest oval on the circuit, and its four famous corners each are taken wide-open, making Indianapolis the most treacherous track in IndyCar.

What’s the points? Drivers

Juan Pablo Montoya has a slim five-point lead in the driver standings over teammate Will Power. Only 13 points behind them sits the third Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves. The first non-Penske driver in the standings, Dixon, clocks in at the fourth position, 27 points out of the lead. Rounding out the top five is Graham Rahal, who is having perhaps the best season of his IndyCar career.

What’s the points? Engines

Due to early season penalties, Chevrolet is sitting 105 points behind Honda, who has a 441-336 advantage over the bowtie brigade.

Driver(s) to Watch

After so many years of coming close to winning this race, Marco Andretti is your driver to watch this weekend. Of drivers who have not won the Indianapolis 500 in the past three years, Andretti has led the most laps. He nearly won the race in his first start in 2006, as a 19-year-old. The man is simply due at this point, and he appears to have the car to pull it off.

Other News

IndyCar announced this week that the city of Boston would be the host of the 2016 IndyCar finale. The circuit would be an entirely new street circuit that has never seen any auto racing of any kind. The move is part of IndyCar’s growing initiative to expand to new, non-traditional markets.

Who Ya Got?

As stated earlier, I’m taking Andretti this week. Huston Ladner has decided to draft Power, while Toni Montgomery is going with Tony Kanaan. The race will be carried live by ABC on Sunday, May 24th, at 12:00 p.m. ET. The race will also be carried on Sirius/XM Radio Channel 212.

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